Q: I really blew up when I went to your 20-second rests between sets. Pump was crazy for me. I’m not sure I can reduce it to 10 seconds before my last set. Is that really necessary? I’m not a wuss. I just want 10 extra seconds of rest. LOL
A: You can do great with 20-second rests all the way through. Remember, that was the study protocol that got slightly better gains than drop sets—no rest but with weight reductions—and standard-rest training. But try to make it to 10 seconds between the last sets. Why?…
To review from Old Man, Young Muscle, the Size Principle of Muscle-Fiber Recruitment basically says that you are firing mostly slow-twitch fibers during the first easy reps of any set, and your high-growth fast-twitchers don’t join the party until the very end of that set after the slow-twitchers are exhausted…
When you begin with one all-out high-rep set, then follow with a second set after a short rest of 20 seconds, you’ll have the fast-twitch fibers heightened to fire.
In other words, your slow-twitch endurance fibers are still oxygen starved because of the high reps on the previous set, so they will crap out fast on set 2. Now you’re dialing in an excess of fast-twitch growth fibers without adding poundage.
After that second set, whether you’re doing a third set on the ideal exercise or an add-on-exercise, eventually get your rest down to only 10 seconds between sets 2 and 3. That will speed up the fast-twitch domino effect even more, jacking up hypertrophy exponentially.
I say “eventually” because you may want to go to 15 seconds for a few weeks, then down to 10.
You want a drop-set effect, which researcher Chris Beardsley says “allow a larger number of stimulating reps to be performed very quickly, making them a very efficient use of workout time.”
I’m convinced that my tremendous gains were the direct result of compressing the sets. Those short rests allowed me to fire an extraordinary number of fast-twitch fibers in less than five minutes per muscle. That’s efficiency of effort…
Beardsley explains that 1 set to failure plus 2 drops, which is essentially what I was doing but without weight reductions, equates to 30 hypertrophy reps. That’s a lot more efficient than doing four heavier straight sets with much longer rests. And my joints didn’t suffer any trauma…
So once you can step out of the “wuss phase” (kidding) and get that rest between your last two sets down to 10 seconds, you should get a nice growth spurt.
New: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
The “New” Perfect Physique
You’ve probably believed that women go crazy over huge muscles. You’ve probably even aspired to look like Arnold at some point.
The picture of the perfect physique seems to have changed over the years…
There were several years when it seemed women preferred a leaner and smaller physique like Brad Pitt’s in Fight Club.
Luckily, that seems to have just been a fad, and a more muscular look has become more desired again. Not pro bodybuilder big, but something in between with good muscularity and chiseled detail…
Alain Gonzales refers to it as the “Athletic-Aesthetic” physique, and women go wild over it.
Check out Alain’s 12-week program here: